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This Blind Record Shop Owner Recognizes His Collection By Touch

Picture of Euan Marshall
Updated: 2 November 2017

The Galeria Boulevard, a classic shopping gallery in the gritty center of São Paulo, is known around the city as a mecca for vinyl collectors. Dozens of record stores line its upper floor, but one in particular stands out from the crowd: Cel-Som Discos and its charismatic owner, Celso Marcílio, who lost his sight 20 years ago.

For the last ten years, 51-year-old Celso has run his store with the help of his wife and became famous for reportedly having the ability to recognize his collection by using only his sense of touch.

When The Culture Trip met with Celso, on a sweltering São Paulo afternoon, he tried to play down his extraordinary talent. “I’ve always been disorganized, which is really bad for a disabled person”, he explained. “My wife organizes the records, so I always know where they are.”

Despite his modesty however, it is clear that Celso does in fact have an extremely refined sense of touch when it comes to his collection. “Some records have certain characteristics, so when I’m putting them away, I can identify them.” Examples of these minute details he is able to recognize range from the thickness of the record or its sleeve, to labels on the cover or even whether the record itself has been damaged or repaired. “There are things that, when looking at the records, you don’t notice. For people who can see, it looks difficult, but for someone who cannot see, it’s not difficult at all.”

Previously having worked in the financial sector, Celso lost his sight after a work-related accident and retired at the early age of 31. He decided to open a second-hand store where he stocked books, CDs, vinyl records, DVDs and comics, but after struggling to manage the entire shop by himself, he decided to focus on music – in particular, vinyl – and opened Cel-Som Discos in 2007.

Celso had always been interested in music, but it was only after losing his sight that he truly fell in love with the artform. “Music is the primordial sound of the creation of the world, the world is made of sounds, everything is connected to music.”

When asked about his dreams, Celso’s eyes light up. “This is another advantage of being blind, I dream every day, and almost every day I remember my dreams. I dream in color, I see people I’ve never seen before in my life”, he laughs. Music also plays a big part in Celso’s dreams. “Sometimes I dream about records that don’t even exist, and I create these wild psychedelic album covers for them.”

Besides being able to identify his records, there are other signals Celso is able to pick up on which often go unnoticed by the naked eye. “There are people who come in and shake my hand and I’ll be able to identify who it is (…) by the texture of the hand, by the way they squeeze your hand”. He is also known for recognizing customers just by the sound of their footsteps. “Everyone walks with a different beat”, he explained.